Today is the long trek on the West Coast Trail. 17km if we go as far as outlined. There are a few camp spots along the way but no large campgrounds and no facilities at any of them. We are used to camping in somewhat secluded areas but we are still concerned about the distance we need to cover. There is one site just to the south of the voluntary no camp zone but staying there would just mean putting off the long day as the number of kms left divided between the number of hiking days determines the length of each hike. There are also three very nice camp sites at Tsusiat Point just north of the Hole in the Wall. L and I think it would be great to stay there but we are out voted (a woman’s vote is weightier than a man’s), the women want to travel the next two kilometres to the falls and have a shorter hike tomorrow.
We know today will be a long time on the trail and we depart a bit early. 7:50am and we are off. Our first goal is to be at the Nitinat ferry crossing at noon. Another diner type lunch. Debbie is on the front of the group and sets a blistering pace for the first 10 km. We are five hikers in a row, Debbie, me, S, L, and H. We travel a combination of beach and forest, it is a full leg workout, each type of travel requiring the use of different muscles.
The forest walk along the voluntary no camp zone is like a highway. It is about 1.2M wide, hard as asphalt and flat as the prairies. We make exceptionally good time here. As we pass by Clo-oose and head towards the ferry crossing we hit a stretch of new board walk and again our speed picks up. We are going to make our appointment with the West Coast Trail Express on Sunday.
Bingo, we arrive at the Crab Shack at precisely noon and lunch is in the making. Debbie and I share a crab, a baked potato and a Coke. It costs a mere $30, not really that bad since it would cost at least that much to have a crab dinner in any city restaurant. It is enough to fuel us for a few kilometres but not enough to sustain us for the remaining day’s allotment of 7km.
For me it is another day of equipment failure. My pole still shrinks when I lean on it too hard and again my water bottle breaks forcing me to carry it in my spare hand. My woes continue when the sole of my hiking boot separates from the arch back. From here on I have Debbie tie my under sole gaiter tie extremely tight and it holds the boot sole mostly in place. When packing to leave I did switch from carrying sandals as my ‘camp’ shoes to an old pair of running shoes just in case my boots did disintegrate, at least I would have something somewhat stable to finish the trail in.
I also pay for a moment of inattention today. We are walking along the beach as it is easier to walk on the wet sand because the water has compacted it and we do not sink so deep. Debbie asks for a piece or two of the beef jerky I have in my pocket. The tide is on its way in. As I fish around trying to undo a obstinate ziplock enclosure, a rogue wave rushes in from my left. As I turn and run up the beach the water catches me from behind. I am wet right up to my ass. Pay attention Mur!
It is a very long day on the trail and Debbie discovers sore tired feet hinder photo creativity. It is all she can do to stand and wait for me to take couple of shots. Her camera remains in the pouch and only sees the light of day at the campsites after we have time to change footwear.
Our senses are becoming a bit more attuned to the surroundings and today holds some interesting observations. The first is aural, as the tide is moving in the waves wash high up on the shore. Water is a very powerful medium and rearranges the landscape with ease. We open our ears to the sounds of the waves and realize how similar the sound is to the city sound of cars whooshing by on the street during a rain storm. Then we hear a most wonderful noise, a rattling, clicking sound. We figure out it is the sound of rocks clacking on one another as the receding wave draws them back seaward. This is a particularly meditative sound and is very peaceful to fall asleep to.
We do see some wildlife although the bear that is the reason for the no camp zone kept himself concealed. There are a few seals and sea lions cavorting in the waters close to shore. I wonder if doing what they do is as much fun as it looks or if to them it is just ‘work’.
There are many, many slugs on the trail today, we see no reason to step on them and as we travel along in line a call echos back, “Slug on the right”. As I round a piece of driftwood I startle a bald eagle. It takes to the air with something large grasped in its talons. Walking past the spot from which the eagle lit out we observe a pile of white feathers and realize the dinner that evening is a unfortunate seagull. Such is nature. In the flora department we see a variety of mushrooms. Blue ones, orange ones, red ones, magic ones and one that looks like it is chocolate covered. The mushrooms we observe on the prairies are not nearly as varied as the ones we walk by today.
At km 14 both of the ladies are flagging. We rest at the Tsusiat Point campsites. Snack, drink and generally kick back. This is where the previously mentioned vote to move on takes place, we do not have any issues with the tide so it is a beach walk to the falls.
9.5 hours after we departed Cribbs Creek we arrive at the Tsusiat Falls campground, and that includes a 1 hour stop for lunch. The campground is very large and there is lots of space between sites, which as best I can make are all on the beach. We choose a spot perfect for our two tents and far away from neighbors.
There are some toilet problems, one of the two is plum full and has been roped off closed and the other has only one hinge on the door so it is difficult to close but after all how shy can one afford to be in the ‘wilderness’.
This day has taken a lot out of all of us but things are getting progressively less difficult, we are traveling faster and the next two days are well within our capabilities.